This was a different kind of funeral, so different from the few words at the grave for little Harvey with the handful of friends and neighbors who had come to offer comfort. There must be a hundred people here. Where did they all come from? Their singing was different, too, and it touched his soul. After congregational songs, a young boy got up to sing.
“Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus
Steal away, steal away home
I ain’t got long to stay here”
My Lord, He calls me
He calls me by the thunder
The trumpet sounds within my soul
I ain’t got long to stay here.”
Harv listened, transfixed at the young boy’s voice. The music continued as the boy began a monologue.
“I was walking in Savannah, past a church decayed and dim,
When there softly, through the window, came a plaintive funeral hymn.
And a sympathy awakened, and a wonder quickly grew
Till I found myself environed in a little negro pew
Down in front, a young couple sat in sorrow, nearly wild
On the altar was a coffin, in the coffin was a child
Rose a sad old negro preacher, from a little wooden desk
With a manner grandly awkward, with a countenance grotesque
And he said, “Now don’t be weep’n fo’ this pretty bit o’ clay For the little boy who lived there, he done gone and run away.
He was doing very finely, and he ‘preciates your love,
But his sure ‘nuf Father wants him in that large house up above. Now, He didn’t give you that baby, by a hundred thousand miles
He just think you need some sunshine, and He lent it fo’ a while.
And He let you love and keep it, till your hearts was bigger grown
And these silver tears you're shedding, why, they’re just interest on the loan.
So, my po dejected mo’nahs, let your hearts with Jesus rest
And don’t go criticizing that there one what knows the best. He hath given many blessings, He hath right to take away
To the Lord be Praise and Glory, now and ever, let us pray.”
A refrain of “Steal Away” ended the piece, and there was not a dry eye in the house. Amidst these strangers, Harvey felt a brotherhood as he released his anger, and bitterness and accepted God’s will. He let the tears flow. Others thought, surely, he was sent from God, look how he mourns with us like it was his own child.
Zella looked on from above, smiling through tears, she thought, I feel like my heart is bigger grown, too.
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